September 26: Kaylee Wilson

Sixteen year old Kaylee Wilson of Arizona was on a mission in Iowa to kill her first buck. She had assembled the A-Team of whitetails to make it happen too; Mark, Wade and the Catch-A-Dream Foundation. The question wasn’t if she’d take one, rather if she could hold out for a trophy.

We came to know Kaylee through the Catch-A-Dream Foundation, a non-profit focused on granting young people with life threatening illnesses once-in-a-lifetime hunting and fishing experiences. It’s one of the associations we’re the most proud of and getting to hunt with an incredible young lady like Kaylee makes it that much sweeter.

Just one of the reasons we think she’s so incredible is her (and her family’s) passion for the outdoors. They eat, sleep and breathe it. Once they all rolled into camp, it was clear that we were all going to get along beautifully. When Kaylee mentioned that she had never killed a whitetail before, that was even more motivation for Mark and Wade to get dialed in on good deer. 15 Reconyx cameras indicated that a cut corn field in the center of the farm would be the best bet.  

There were four bucks Mark had targeted for Kaylee’s four day hunt. Their first night in the blind however, was one of those rare magical whitetail events when the temperature cools, the sun shines and the pressure is high. As a result, they saw bucks sparring, chasing, and scraping. Kaylee  had opportunities at multiple three year old deer, but she heeded Mark’s suggestion to wait and see if one of the big boys would step out.

By 7pm the field had emptied out and Mark began to get a sinking feeling that maybe nothing would happen that evening. As he sat in the quiet, both of them seeing nothing, his mind started working options for subsequent evenings.

Ten minutes later, another three year old buck stepped out onto the field edge at 120 yards. He was a good deer, but the buck following in behind dwarfed him. When she saw the target deer Mark had nicknamed the “G1 buck, ” her excited voice repeated “That’s the one!” ten times.

It took an excruciating 15 minutes for the G1 buck to graze towards Kaylee. Finally, at 90 yards he turned broadside and she set the crosshairs of her Traditions StrikerFire on him.


Through a puff of muzzleloader smoke they could see the buck shudder and run off. Mark and Wade followed the blood until it ran out that evening, then backed out to resume the search in the morning. Kaylee had a fitful night of sleep not having recovered her buck, but the guys went back out the next day and by observing turkey vultures, were able to locate her deer down by a creek. They called her and an elated Kaylee got to put her hands on the G1 buck, her first deer ever.

As if that wasn’t enough, after the excitement and hugs and high fives, Mark asked Kaylee if she wanted to go fill her antlerless tag as well. She wasted little time and as her family watched via Facebook Live, Kaylee downed a doe at 15 steps with her Traditions. The family would be heading back to Arizona with quite a cooler of venison.

Waiting for a mature buck isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first deer, but Kaylee did it. The G1 buck was down and Kaylee sky high with joy. We are privileged to share this hunt with this incredible young lady and her family. Congratulations Kaylee!

We’d also like to thank our good friends at Traditions Firearms who presented Kaylee with her very own StrikerFire after the hunt.  We’re fortunate to have partners who truly understand the spirit of the hunting community.

Finally, if you’re interested in supporting the life changing work of Catch-A-Dream, contact them to find out ways you can get involved.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik